Top 5 Social Security Myths

#1: Social Security is going broke.

Reality: There is no Social Security crisis. By 2023, Social Security will have a $4.6 trillion surplus (yes, trillion with a ‘T’). It can pay out all scheduled benefits for the next quarter-century with no changes whatsoever. After 2037, it’ll still be able to pay out 75% of scheduled benefits—and again, that’s without any changes. The program started preparing for the Baby Boomers’ retirement decades ago. Anyone who insists Social Security is broke probably wants to break it themselves.

#2: We have to raise the retirement age because people are living longer.

Reality: This is a red-herring to trick you into agreeing to benefit cuts. Retirees are living about the same amount of time as they were in the 1930s. The reason average life expectancy is higher is mostly because many fewer people die as children than they did 70 years ago. What’s more, what gains there have been are distributed very unevenly—since 1972, life expectancy increased by 6.5 years for workers in the top half of the income brackets, but by less than 2 years for those in the bottom half. But those intent on cutting Social Security love this argument because raising the retirement age is the same as an across-the-board benefit cut.

FDR signs Social Security Act

#3: Benefit cuts are the only way to fix Social Security.

Reality: Social Security doesn’t need to be fixed. But if we want to strengthen it, here’s a better way: Make the rich pay their fair share.  If the very rich paid taxes on all of their income, Social Security would be sustainable for decades to come. Right now, high earners only pay Social Security taxes on the first $106,000 of their income. But conservatives insist benefit cuts are the only way because they want to protect the super-rich from paying their fair share.

#4: The Social Security Trust Fund has been raided and is full of IOUs

Reality: Not even close to true. The Social Security Trust Fund isn’t full of IOUs, it’s full of U.S. Treasury Bonds. And those bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States. The reason Social Security holds only treasury bonds is the same reason many Americans do: The federal government has never missed a single interest payment on its debts. President Bush wanted to put Social Security funds in the stock market—which would have been disastrous—but luckily, he failed. So the trillions of dollars in the Social Security Trust Fund, which are separate from the regular budget, are as safe as can be.

#5: Social Security adds to the deficit

Reality: It’s not just wrong—it’s impossible!  By law, Social Security’s funds are separate from the budget, and it must pay its own way. That means that Social Security can’t add one penny to the deficit.

Find out how you can help protect Social Security by contacting the SC Alliance for Retired Americans at

Killing for fun; military madness

by Tom Turnipseed
Columbia, SC

Successful professionals enjoy their work. The Obama administration has picked a successful and happy warrior in Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis to head the US Central Command. The command includes all US forces in Afghanistan, Iraq, the entire Middle East and Central Asia. Mattis has gloated that it is “fun to shoot some people” and “have a plan to kill everybody you meet”.

Killing is the key to success in military actions. Killing enough insurgents by invading and occupying US forces enables the winners to subdue and subjugate the survivors. The real winners in the Middle East are the US based corporations who seek to exploit the resources of energy and mineral rich countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran. Also the corporate war profiteers of the defense industry are making out like bandits. They furnish the killing tools, the hired mercenaries and other wasteful and expensive materials, equipment and supplies for our never-ending wars-on-terror.

Mattis has a strong resume in the military killing business. He was a lieutenant colonel in the US invasion of Iraq in 1991, directed the Marines in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, headed the US assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004 and helped design the siege that destroyed the city and killed thousands of Iraqi civilians. Mattis also commanded the initial troops that went into Afghanistan in 2001.

Describing his feelings about the people in Afghanistan, General Mattis said, “… It’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually it’s quite fun to fight them, you know. It’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right up there with you. I like brawling.”

Author Thomas Ricks wrote that Mattis told his troops to, “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”

During Operation Desert Storm in Iraq, Mattis reportedly told his troops, “It’s the mission of every Marine in the battalion to send one dead Iraqi home to Mama.”

Perhaps World War II Army General George S. Patton, Jr.  is a role model for Mattis in his  glorification of  military madness and the joy of  killing.  Patton said “Magnificent! Compared to war all other forms of human endeavor shrink to insignificance. God help me, I do love it so!” and “No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country, He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.” Patton also said, “America loves a winner, and will not tolerate a loser, this is why America has never, and will never, lose a war.”  Of course that was before our ill-fated military ventures in Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates called Mattis “one of our military’s outstanding combat leaders and strategic thinkers, bringing an essential mix of experience, judgment and perspective to this important post.” Asked about Mattis’ bloodthirsty rhetoric, Gates brushed off an official rebuke against Mattis saying it was five years ago.

In Afghanistan, US and NATO forces casualties continue to escalate. The number of Americans killed so far this month is at least 23 with 14 killed last week. In June, 102 occupation troops were killed including 60 Americans. 1,149 American soldiers have been killed in the war in Afghanistan, and countless numbers of Afghan civilians have died. We don’t do body counts of “the enemy” because, as former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said, “death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war.”

Our economic crisis is directly tied to the cost of the war. It costs $1 million per year to maintain a single soldier in Afghanistan.  The 2010 Pentagon budget is $693 billion, which surpasses all other discretionary spending programs combined–while our deficit soars. We desperately need money to create green jobs, rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and improve education.

President Obama replaced General McChrystal with General Petraeus as commanding general of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. McChrystal had made derogatory remarks about Obama and his administration’s conduct of the war.  Petraeus was head of the Central Command and will be replaced by Mattis. Obama said, “War is bigger than any one man or woman, whether a private, a general or president.”

The war in Afghanistan is a big loser. Rearranging deck chairs to include one more “fun to kill” military madman will not keep it from sinking like the Titanic. Only ending the war will save Obama.

A recent ABC / Washington Post poll found that people felt the war was not worth fighting by a 53 to 44 margin. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll had 62% of the American people saying the country was going in the wrong direction and Obama’s approval rating at 45% with 48% disapproval.

President Obama was the most successful politician in the US who seemed to enjoy being elected to the highest office in the land. Fulfilling his promise of peace, hope and change is a winner.  However his failure to conclude killing for fun military madness will make him a loser in 2012 and doom his party in November

Tom Turnipseed is an attorney, writer and peace activist in Columbia, SC. His blog is here.

Restoring balance between Wall Street and Main Street

By Frank Knapp Jr.
President and CEO of SC Small Business Chamber of Commerce

The South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce and small business organizations and owners across this country want Wall Street reform. But you wouldn’t know that from the attention the media gives to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is the mouthpiece for the big financial institutions that oppose reform.

The U.S. Chamber purports to represent small businesses. However, the reality is quite different. The July/August edition of the Washington Monthly features an eye-opening story on Tom Donohue, the CEO of the U.S. Chamber, who has a plaque on his desk that reads, “SHOW ME THE MONEY.”  In 2008, a third of the Chamber’s revenues came from just 19 big companies.

When big oil, insurance and other companies are out of favor because of their greed, they turn to the U.S. Chamber to convince Congress and the public that the needed reforms are bad for business in general and small business in particular. This is exactly what is going on regarding Wall Street reform.

It’s clear that the U.S. Chamber does not represent the interests of small businesses that have suffered because of the irresponsible actions of the nation’s biggest banks. The greed of these financial institutions collapsed our economy and shut down loans and credit lines to our small businesses. We hear macro and micro stories every day about small businesses not getting access to the money they need. And every economist acknowledges that small businesses must hire the employees we need to lead us out of this recession just as they have in the last three economic recoveries.

But ironically, the only business sector that’s apparently hiring is Wall Street, as the New York Times explains in a recent piece. Greed is still alive and well on Wall Street. And we all know that without Wall Street reform, greed will bring our economy down again and tear apart our small businesses — if we can ever get them back on their feet.

Yet, the U.S. Chamber still wants Congress and the public to be afraid — very afraid. Wall Street reform will dry up loans to small business, the U.S. Chamber warns. That’s wrong. Their big bank donors are doing pretty well right now and they aren’t doing that by making small business loans and investing in our communities. They’re making money gambling on Wall Street.

The U.S. Chamber pretends to be a friend to Main Street worried that Sam the Butcher, Joe the Orthodontist and your local car dealer will be regulated out of business. That’s not in the Wall Street reform proposal.

What the butcher, orthodontist and car dealer want are customers — the customers who lost their jobs because of Wall Street greed.

Small business supports this reform because it will restore balance between Wall Street and Main Street through fair and commonsense policies and create a stable, transparent financial environment in which community banks and credit unions can once again feel secure in making loans.

We at the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce have been strong supporters of a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to better protect consumers, which includes small businesses. We’re not afraid of good regulation that keeps our customers and us safe from financial predators.

We’re in favor of making banks be banks and not gambling houses. We have been strong supporters of the “Volcker Rule” to put the brakes on proprietary trading by banks — the practice that largely is responsible for bringing us to the brink of another Great Depression.

Congress should just say no to the U.S. Chamber. The financial health of our country and our small businesses depends on it.

Activists urge senators to vote on jobs bill

On June 30, union and community leaders gathered in front of US Sen. Jim Demint’s office in Charleston. They were among thousands of others across the nation sending a message to their Republican Senators: “Vote on the Jobs Bill Now!”

“On Thursday, June 23, the Senate again failed to get cloture on the Jobs Bill even after Democrats agreed to reduce the overall cost of the bill.” said Leonard Riley, ILA member and president of Carolina Alliance for Fair Employment (CAFE).

Riley was joined by leaders of the Charleston and Columbia Central Labor Councils(CLC), SC Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA), SC Progressive Network, ILA Local 1422, AFSCME Local 1199 and the SC AFL-CIO.

Jenny Patterson, president of the Columbia CLC, said, “We are tired of Senator Demint pulling the rug out from under unemployed workers in our state and our public health and safety just to score political points. His refusal to vote for funding to keep teachers, police officers and other workers on the job and to protect elderly residents from being tossed out of nursing homes is outrageous.”

Vic Rawl, former Democratic candidate for US Senate, was among those attending the action. Rawl was endorsed by the SC AFL-CIO.

It’s time to refocus abortion debate

Cory Manning
S.C. Coalition for Healthy Families

On June 16, the Legislature passed the so-called 24-hour waiting period bill. Previous versions of the bill required women to make two trips to an abortion provider: one to get the materials and one to have the procedure. The bill that was finally passed allows women to review the materials on-line, eliminating the two-trip requirement. This was a victory for S.C. women and others concerned about reproductive rights.

Unfortunately, this was yet another example of the misguided discussion regarding abortion.

The participants in the abortion debate often seek legislative endorsement of moral positions that leave little room for compromise. Instead of seeking to score points or curry favor with constituent groups, they should focus on addressing the problem: unintended or unwanted pregnancies.

Both sides of this debate, if they are being realistic and want solutions, would support measures that reduce unintended or unwanted pregnancies. For example, educating teenagers with age-appropriate information about sexual activity, including contraception and abstinence, and supporting low-income women in economically rational ways that give them real choices regarding the decision to have a child will reduce the number of unintended and unwanted pregnancies (and hence the number of abortions) in South Carolina. If both sides focused on this common ground, we could see genuine improvement in the quality of life for women, children and all citizens of South Carolina.